C. Ing, P. Gabor

University of Calgary (CANADA)
Online education has been around for more than two decades and has been growing as a delivery option in higher education settings. Nevertheless, online teaching and learning are a new experience for instructors or learners whose background is in traditional campus-based education. Consequently, many learners and instructors are not prepared for the different demands presented by online education. Predictably, dissatisfaction and unfavorable outcomes follow. Research strongly suggests that online teaching and learning are not simply a transposition of traditional classroom-based teaching and learning approaches to technology-based platforms. Online teaching is an art to itself and requires that instructional content and processes be adapted to the media that are used to deliver the course or program. Similarly, online learning is a very different experience from traditional campus-based learning and makes different demands on students in cognitive, personal and social spheres. Simply put, they must learn to become effective online students. Thus, neither instructors nor learners can successfully step into an online role without adequate preparation.

To ensure the best experience and outcomes for both learners and instructors, considerable planning and preparation are required. In this presentation, using key ideas from the research and literature on online learning as well as our own experiences as online learners and instructors, we will identify and elaborate on ways of effectively orienting students and preparing them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed on-line. In addition, we will look at the importance of providing learners with adequate advance information so they can enter the program with realistic expectations. The paper will then look at how to best help instructors get ready for online teaching. Their preparation should pay attention not only to mastering relevant instructional technologies but also to creatively adapting their material so it suits the media used for delivery. As well preparation should equip instructors with the knowledge and skills they will need to engage their students with appropriate pedagogical approaches.